The Godfather Part III is considered by many to be a major disappointment and a flop in the history of cinema. The film, which was released in 1990, was the third and final installment in the iconic Godfather trilogy directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Despite the fact that the first two films were both critical and commercial successes, Part III failed to live up to expectations, receiving mixed reviews from critics and disappointing box office returns. Therefore, I wanted to take a closer look at some of the reasons why The Godfather Part III flopped.
1. High expectations
One of the main reasons why The Godfather Part III flopped was because of the high expectations set by its predecessors. The first two films in the trilogy are considered by many to be some of the greatest movies ever made, with the original Godfather winning multiple Oscars and being hailed as a masterpiece of American cinema. To this day, it retains the top spot among Acedemy Awards Best Picture winners ranked by their IMDb overall rating. Back in 1990, this put a lot of pressure on the third installment to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the story, and many viewers were left disappointed when it failed to do so.
2. Questionable casting choices
Another factor that contributed to the failure of The Godfather Part III was a number of rather puzzling casting choices. The film starred Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, the patriarch of the Corleone crime family, and was supposed to feature Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, the family’s consigliere. However, Duvall was unable to reach an agreement with the filmmakers, and his character was replaced by George Hamilton’s character, B.J. Harrison. Additionally, Sofia Coppola, the director’s daughter, was cast in the pivotal role of Mary Corleone, Michael’s daughter, despite her lack of acting experience. Her performance was widely criticised, with some critics even going so far as to call it one of the worst performances in film history. Al Pacino’s performance was impeccable, and Andy Garcia was widely praised for his performance, so it’s not all bad.
3. Muddled plot
Another problem with The Godfather Part III was its muddled and convoluted plot. The film picks up the story of Michael Corleone several years after the events of the previous films, as he attempts to legitimize the family business and atone for his past sins. However, the plot quickly becomes bogged down in political intrigue, Vatican conspiracies, and romantic subplots, making it difficult for viewers to keep track of what’s going on. While previous films were both exploring various character arcs on various fronts, with Part II jumping back and forth from a young Vito Corleone and an aging Michael Corleone, the writing, structure and pacing was impeccable. With Part III, many viewers felt that the film lacked the clear narrative structure and compelling character arcs that made the first two films so successful.
4. Poor timing
The Godfather Part III was also released at a time when the landscape of cinema was changing rapidly. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a new wave of filmmakers was emerging, and audiences were hungry for edgier, more provocative films. The Godfather Part III, on the other hand, was a more traditional, old-fashioned film, and it struggled to compete with the more daring and innovative movies of the era. Additionally, the film was released at the same time as other major blockbusters like Home Alone and Edward Scissorhands, which may have overshadowed it at the box office.
When released back in 1990, The Godfather Part III was quick to disappoint many of the series’ fans, who had been waiting since 1974 for the conclusion of Michael Corleone’s story. This initial sentiment contributed in no small part to its lackluster critical and commercial reception. Despite these shortcomings, however, it was still a great film if we view it independently of the previous two – it was nominated for 7 Oscars, and although it failed to win any of them, in the 33 years since its release, The Godfather Part III has certainly found its niche and admirers.